Many courts view the home office as a legitimate extension of the employer’s workplace. With the coronavirus crisis still rolling across the country, a significant number of people are working from home. As a general rule of thumb, individuals who are injured while performing work-related tasks can file workers’ compensation claims for their injuries. This is welcome news for the tens of millions of Americans working from home for the foreseeable future.
The Presumption of Work-Related Injuries
When a worker is injured in the office, on the factory floor, etc., it is generally presumed that the injury is work-related. However, injuries that occur in the home office are not automatically presumed to be because of work-related tasks. For example, an individual who slips and falls from a ladder while changing a light bulb in the home office could argue that is a work-related injury. However, an individual who slips and falls while removing snow from the driveway may not be compensable unless the individual had a legitimate work-related need to have a clear driveway, such as work-related travel.
One common issue is repetitive stress injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome. These types of injuries are covered the same as they would be if the individual had spent years working in the office instead of their own home. Further, employers have a duty of care to ensure their employees have the proper equipment and tools required to safely perform their jobs. This includes ergonomic and other protections afforded to workers in the regular office.
In some cases, the personal comfort doctrine can be applied to work-from-home injuries. For instance, when an individual slip and falls while retrieving a cup of coffee from the kitchen or while using the restroom. These types of incidents are covered because many courts extend the same personal comfort doctrine that governs office activities to the home office.
Documenting Work-From-Home Injuries
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way America goes to work. The sudden spread of the virus across the country and the rapid increase in the number of people working from home means that workers’ compensation claims for home-related injuries are likely to receive less scrutiny than in the past. However, individuals will still need to properly document their injuries and the circumstances resulting in the injury-causing event when pursuing a workers’ compensation claim in Nevada. Moreover, statutes of limitations and other requirements for filing remain unchanged.